When the temperatures drop, there are few things better than digging into a warm bowl of hearty comfort fare. The perfect wine pairing can further enhance your experience of both the meal and the wine, taking your home-cooked or takeout meal that much closer to a restaurant experience while staying safe and socially distanced. Sarah Quider, the executive winemaker of Ferrari-Carano Vineyards & Winery in Sonoma County, has graciously shared her pairing recommendations for some popular winter dishes.
Risotto: pair with 2018 Ferrari-Carano Chardonnay
The acidity of a classic Chardonnay is just the thing to cut through the richness of a creamy risotto.
Quider explained that Ferrari-Carano’s Chardonnay is mostly made up of grapes from Alexander Valley, with some grapes from Russian River Valley and Napa Carneros blended in. “The Russian River Valley and Napa Carneros have cooler climates, and we blend those grapes with ones grown in the warmer Alexander Valley,” she said. The fruit coming from Alexander Valley has flavors of ripe apple and pear, plus more tropical characteristics, whereas the fruit from the cooler climates have more citrus, bright acidity and structure.
Beef Stew: pair with 2017 Ferrari-Carano Cabernet Sauvignon
The rich flavors of a Cabernet pair well with the rich flavors of beef stew.
“This is a wine that is grown in two of our hillside vineyards,” Quider said. “Most of our Cabernet is grown at around 1,000 feet in elevation; one of the mountains we source fruit from is by Knights Valley in the east side of Sonoma County and the other one is in the North part of Sonoma County.” The small clusters of hillside berries are fermented in barrels made of French and Hungarian oak, which gives the wine jammy berry flavors (like blackberry and cassis), plus warm spices and a hint of leather.
Chicken and Dumplings: pair with 2018 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Noir
The lighter, fruitier flavors of a Pinot noir pair nicely with the lighter flavors of this dish and won’t overpower it.
“Our Pinot noir comes from two different hillside vineyards in Mendocino,” Quider said. “The berries are grown at 1,600 feet in elevation and six miles from the ocean so it’s a pretty extreme Pinot noir wine growing area.” The resulting wine is light and delicate, with a fruity brightness similar to strawberries or acai.
Dal: pair with 2018 Ferrari-Carano Siena
The spices and acidity of this red blend of Sangiovese and Malbec complement the richness and earthiness of Indian lentil soup.
“We are a third-generation family from Italy, so we make a lot of Italian wines,” Quider said. “Sangiovese is a type of grape that has higher acidity, great structure and tannins. You have a lot of pomegranate and black cherry characteristics, so there’s a high tone spice that comes through. We blend it with a little bit of Malbec, so you get this nice acidity but you also have this softening from the Malbec.”
Shakshuka: pair with 2019 Ferrari-Carano Fumé Blanc
This versatile wine made with Sauvignon blanc grapes has citrusy grapefruit flavors that would pair nicely with eggs.
“Our Sauvignon blanc is not like a normal Sauvignon blanc; it’s more of a tropical style,” Quider said. “In the vineyards, we open up the canopy and get sunlight into the fruiting zone to try to burn off the grassy green pyrazines that are in grapes to make them turn more tropical. There’s Sauvignon blancs out there that are grassy and green that I didn’t think would pair quite as well. We put our Sauvignon blanc in neutral barrels so there’s this soft roundness that comes through.”
Tonkotsu Ramen: pair with 2018 Ferrari-Carano Pinot Grigio
The acidity and brightness of pinot grigio is the perfect complement to a rich, warm pork ramen.
“Our pinot grigio has nice acidity and brightness,” Quider said. “Ramen is warm and it’s got that richness and earthiness from the pork. To me, our pinot grigio has a peachy apple kind of character. That acidity will cut through some of the flavors of the ramen.”